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Progress is ‘lumpy’

We stumbled across a very accurate quote this week on social media, “Progress is lumpy,” (unfortunately we can no longer find the post to credit this wonderfully articulate individual), but what a phrase!!  

Working in schools, with sports clubs and with athletes, we are now driven by data and the need to improve, develop and show progress and whilst we agree that there should be an upward trajectory when it comes to Long Term Athletic Development, that progression is not always linear, it is LUMPY! 

This is completely normal and if your pupils or athletes find that sometimes their progress or performance takes a dip, they (and you) should not worry about this, this is all part of the journey and should be viewed as such, along with taking the learning out of that particular performance. 

But why can performance levels take that dip?  

Before we get into this, let’s set some ground rules for this blog – a dip in performance should not be viewed as a dip in progress or development. This dip is part of progress/development.  

You shouldn’t be worried about this dip – it happens, learn from it, embrace it and move on.  

If the dip in performance becomes a common trend, then it is time to amend your practice, not to give up!  


So, why can performance take a dip?

1. LIFE 

Take the last 18 months for example, life throws up some unbelievable challenges sometimes that can make your day-to-day activities harder due to increased levels of stress and anxiety.  

Think about our children returning to school, it has been hard for some or those adults worrying about their jobs during a pandemic, or even just the stresses of family life or paying the bills.  

Life is sometimes tough, we can all take our eye of our physical performance sometimes, even those at the very top, we can all have an off day!  



This links very closely to the point made above, just like with our physical health, our mental health can have its own ups and downs, this doesn’t mean we are necessarily suffering from a mental illness, but it can mean we are finding things tougher from time to time and just like we have mentioned above, this may mean that we are either mentally exhausted or just not concentrating fully on the task at hand and so, there will be a dip in physical performance. 

As coaches and teachers, it is important that we attempt to support the mental health of our pupils and athletes along with their physical and cognitive development – happiness can be the key to progress.

Mental Health


Sleep is as important as training itself. It is during sleep where are body does some of its greatest work as it doesn’t only allow your mind to recharge, but it gives your body the opportunity to recover, repair and grow. It is also very closely linked to improved athletic performance, a study by Mah, Mah, Kerizian and Dement in 2011 found that extended sleep significantly improved the speed accuracy, reaction times and wellbeing of elite basketball players.  

If your children are coming to school tired, or athletes coming to training and competition tired, it will significantly reduce their performance.



Rest is such an important part of development, we looked at this a few weeks ago (Importance of Rest), sometimes athletes find it difficult to switch off, or feel guilty for doing so and don’t take the time they need, this can be the same for some children who may be part of multiple sports clubs, along with swimming lessons etc. As we have already stated above, life is hard and if we don’t take the time to look after ourselves, the changes of performing at optimum levels are slim. 



The fuel we put into our bodies directly links to how it performs. Ever put diesel into a petrol car?  

It’s the same thing, the level of activity directly links to the amount of fuel (calories) you need and the type of fuel that you should be taking in. Those whose diets are not suitable or in some cases those that are not getting enough fuel will find it difficult to perform.  

Sticking with our car analogy, it won’t go anywhere with now fuel in it! 



Unfortunately, we have witnessed first-hand over the last 18 months what illness can do to us, those that have Covid, or recovering from Covid would not be able to perform at the same level as a healthy individual, but this is the same for individuals with a common cold, a cough, or a little bug.  

All the issues above are real examples of why performance levels can take that dip from time to time. We are made to believe from social media influencers and mainstream media outlets that if you are not constantly hitting your targets or not always moving forwards then you must be moving backwards. NONESENCE 

It is all part of the journey, just keep an eye on the trend of your performance. As we have mentioned, performance is lumpy – there will be lots of ups and downs, if there is a sustained period of improvement, great, if there isn’t don’t worry, but take a look at your training, your lifestyle and the reasons why this could be and try and initiate change; remember we all have a bad day at the office every now and again.  

A good way to try and improve performance is to attempt to try and be consistent with your training and to train in the right way and whether you are a schoolteacher, a pupil, an athlete or a coach, we have the tools to help!  

Check them out below!

Want to become a better Athlete? 

Our Sports Apps below can help

Total S&C

Stength and Conditioning Platform for Clubs and Academies

Our Total S&C platform helps coaches to deliver a LTAD and S&C programme efficiently to a large number of athletes across all age groups playing different sports.


Our Strength & Conditioning platform consists of a Portal for the coaching team, enabling them to modify training sessions, monitor players training history, input test results and identify players who are sports ready. The athletes are provided their own S&C Player App which allows them to take control of their own training, self-test, log exercise history and track progress.

We get athletes sport ready. We reduce overuse injuries and burn out. We help to develop independent and healthy athletes.

  • Automated session generator saves time
  • Monitor athlete adherence and progress
  • Online management portal for coaches
  • Training App for all athletes
  • Testing and profiling to identify sport readiness


TF App

The Total Football App, is designed to support players of all ages and skill levels. It is the only Football Coaching App that integrates 5 phases of skill acquisition and long-term athletic development, meaning that all sessions and activities are designed to meet your current skill level whether you are just starting out, or are an experienced academy player. All our turning sessions are designed by UEFA Qualified Coaches and are supported by further sessions in:

Ensuring that players aren’t just practicing but are practicing with the highest quality. We also have a range of physical development practices, healthy lifestyle sessions, and psychological tips to help develop the total footballer. If your child needs help developing their turning, or any part of their game, you can try the app for free now!

Order the App         FreeTrial 

Total Sport Logo

Improve Fitness and Develop Sports Skills

The Total Sport App allows children to access fun and exciting activities that will help improve fitness, develop sports skills and increase confidence.

  • Develop Fundamental Movement Skills, such as Agility, Balance and Coordination
  • Learn new sports skills, dance and yoga
  • Improve overall wellbeing and fitness
  • Understand emotional wellbeing


The Total Sport App is completely branded to you school and fully maintained by us. We provide new drills each week to improve Speed, Strength, Power, Agility and Endurance, and provide long-term support for parents and players via training session developed by our experienced team of experts

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